Ryan Nugent-Hopkins knows his offensive game has to get better.

As the Edmonton Oilers first-line centre, his one goal in 21 games this season is a reflection of the team's struggles.

Yet going up against opponent's top lines for the majority of the year, Nugent-Hopkins and the Oilers know what he does in his own end is as equally important to the club's success.

Thursday will be another big challenge, taking on the Detroit Red Wings at the Joe Louis Arena.

"I feel better than I did last year out there,. The points haven't come as easily as they did last year but I'm going to keep working on that and keep working on my offence," Nugent-Hopkins said.

"But I'm focusing on my defensive game as well. We'll see and hopefully the offence comes from that."

Despite the loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Nugent-Hopkins had a strong game Tuesday, setting up a goal and finishing on the plus side of the ledger.

Had Jordan Eberle been able to bury a shot in overtime, Nugent-Hopkins would have finished with his first multi-point game of the season.

Nugent-Hopkins served one up on a platter to Eberle at the side of the net, but the Oilers winger, playing with a sore hand, couldn't lift his shot over the outstretched pad of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.